Mt. Pleasant works to clean up storm damage before Old Threshers

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) ? Renee Taylor bunkered down in her trailer in Central Park Tuesday evening as a storm rolled through Mt. Pleasant.

As she listened to the wind howling and the rain pounding on the roof of her trailer, the food truck vendor felt bad for the crafters who had set up their booths earlier that day for Crafts in the Park.

?It rained like crazy, then all of a sudden you couldn?t see outside,? Taylor said. ?My concern was ?Is the show going to go on???

The Midwest Old Threshers Reunion still is a go, however, despite the heavy storms Tuesday, which caused severe tree damage across Mt. Pleasant. The Reunion and Crafts in the Park begins today and goes until Monday.

On the Old Threshers? grounds, Terry McWilliams was out surveying damage with the board of directors Wednesday morning. While several tents came down in the storm, Grant Davidson, Old Threshers public relations, said people were on the grounds cleaning up debris and making sure everything was safe for visitors arriving today.

?As of right now, we?re still planning on everything operating for the rest of the show,? Davidson said. ?If something does arise, the board of directors and Terry will get together and discuss contingency plans.?

In Central Park, vendors began arriving by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, surveying the damage done to their tents and planning for the rest of Old Threshers. Kristi Ray, executive vice president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, walked around pen in hand letting vendors know it was their priority to make sure Old Threshers goes on.

Of the 100 vendors registered for Crafts in the Park, by 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, only two had taken Ray up on her offer to pack up their things and receive a full refund. The others decided to persevere, dry off their crafts and sell what they could salvage.

There were 40 vendors who had yet to begin setting up on Wednesday. Ray estimated that the show will still have 80 or more booths.

Phillip and Nancy Young found their brand-new red tent upside down and filled with water. The couple, from Jefferson City, Mo., considered themselves lucky. Yes, they had set up their tent, but they had yet to set out any product.

?We?ve had a crappy year, and I wonder what else will go wrong,? Nancy said. ?But we will survive this. Some people need this to live and we don?t. Some people this is really going to affect their lives and it won?t ours.?

Wilbur Sterner wasn?t so lucky. Sterner looked through broken pieces of antiques, looking for anything he could salvage. ?Thousands of dollars of damages,? he said. Taking Ray?s offer of leaving with a full refund, he lamented that he wouldn?t even have enough merchandise to set up at a small market.

Kenneth Winters, who has been a vendor at Crafts in the Park since the 70s, was aggravated that he hadn?t been alerted by the Chamber during the storm that his tent had overturned. This year?s Crafts in the Park was Winters? last. His tent, which was twisted around a tree, had already been sold to someone for $100 after the show ended.

?They should have called us and told us when the tent went down,? Winters said. ?I prayed to everyone, and it didn?t do me no good last night.?

Debbie Manning spent Tuesday night praying that her tent would be spared. All four of her tents were destroyed and items from booth of home décor and repurposed furniture scattered.

Discouraged, Manning mused that she would dry everything off and see what she could salvage. ?A lot of money down the drain,? she said.

Vendors with softer items like Marlene Carter?s sewing goods and quilt booth found themselves a little better off. While she said cleanup would be ?a lot of work? with throwing quilts into the dryer, she was determined to put her items back out for Thursday.

After spending the morning speaking with vendors, Ray was impressed as she watched them help each other get their booths set up again. Calling them ?resilient,? Ray thanked all the volunteers assisting the vendors clean up Wednesday, including faculty and students from Iowa Wesleyan University.

?The priority for us is to make sure Mt. Pleasant?s Old Threshers goes on,? Ray said.